How to Sleep Better: 6 Simple Tips to Get Quality Sleep During National Sleep Awareness Month by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
March is National Sleep Awareness Month and provides us with an opportunity to look at our own sleep habits and search for ways to improve on the quantity and quality of sleep we get. Sleep is key to helping our bodies stay healthy, but many Americans are not getting the sleep they need.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of U.S. adults report that they usually get less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Insufficient sleep or sleeping less than seven hours per day is linked to many chronic diseases and conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression, that threaten our nation's health.
With quality sleep critical to our mind and body, here are some recommendations for getting better sleep tonight:
- Be mindful of dinner portions. Going to bed with a full stomach can be uncomfortable and even lead to indigestion, disrupting sleep. On the other hand, if your dinner meal is too skimpy, you might be wakened by hunger pangs.
- Normalize moving your body. Exercising can help the body relax for sleep. Specifically, moderate to vigorous exercise can increase sleep quality for adults by reducing sleep onset – or the time it takes to fall asleep – and decrease the amount of time they lie awake in bed during the night.
- Prepare yourself to rest. Follow the digital detox rule of no television, computers, digital readers or phones at least one hour before bedtime. Switch your smartphone out for a book you’ve been meaning to read and try committing to at least 10 pages each night when you get in bed.
- Adopt some relaxation techniques. The evening hours before bedtime are a good time to wind-down and practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, meditation or yoga, for example, have been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety, which may help put your mind at ease for a restful night’s sleep.
- Sip on herbal tea. Many non-caffeinated herbal teas feature herbs, plants, fruits and spices, and they often contain functional benefits. Chamomile and lavender, specifically, promote relaxation and restful sleep. Chamomile or lavender tea before bed may produce calming effects to promote sleep.
- Create a routine. Making an effort to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day can create a sleep routine that can help you achieve a deeper, more restful night’s sleep.
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